This rider has a very good leg position. The stirrup could be adjusted a little so that her small toe touches the outside branch of the iron. The iron is correctly at a right angle to the girth and her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out the maximum of what is acceptable in the 15- to 45-degree range. This is the leg position that has withstood the test of time with many riders and many horses.
Like our first rider, this rider has been caught. There is a little stiffening in the hand against the horse’s mouth. I want her hip angle closed, her upper body more forward and her hands a little lower in the air. We don’t want to feel anything against the horse especially in the middle of his jumping arc. We don’t want to interfere with him as he does the difficult task of jumping the fence. When a horse feels interference, he’s not going to be as good with his legs. If he feels freedom, he’ll be better.
This horse’s left leg is way up while the right one is way down, which I don’t care for. I’d almost rather have two legs down. It’s partly because the rider has been caught and the horse is feeling defensive off the ground, a little insecure. The rider could improve his front end by trotting him to the base of the fence while releasing his mouth.
The horse looks to be in good weight but his coat is dull—though it might appear so because it looks to be raining. His mane is a little unruly. The rider’s boots could be cleaned and polished until they shine. Overall, the turnout is neat but in the casual department. The fence is airier than that of the first rider’s. To make it more challenging, the course designer could take away the ground line and drop the bottom rail a few holes.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.